Thursday, February 16, 2006

Queen Min

the photo on the right

the photo
Queen Min ----The assasination of Queen Min---Gang-raped????
Queen MIn---The assasination of Queen Min
assassination-of-queen-min---nonkorean historian's account

Min vs Historians

“A politician who deceived Russia, China, and Japan,” “the woman who planned to eject the Japanese from the Korean peninsula by making an alliance with Russia,” 1“the most politically influential woman ever produced by the T. Dynasty,” 2these are only a few of the opinions of her abroad. Even her enemy, Japanese Count Inoue, who played a big role in her assassination, said, “Her Majesty has few equals among her countrymen for shrewdness and sagacity. In the art of conciliating her enemies and winning the confidence of her servants she has no equal.”

In Korea the opinion of Queen Min varied in different periods. In the 1950s many intellectuals, for example historian Choe Byong Ik, considered her "an embodiment of all the evils of the decaying dynasty". One could not find the Queen in the list of the most important personalities of Korean history. Until recently people avoided even speaking about her, as “she had dealt too much with foreigners and ruined the country.”

Only in the last two or three years has the attitude toward Queen Min’s activities suddenly changed. This is undoubtedly connected with the policy of globalization proclaimed by Kim, Young Sam’s government and the improvement in relations with Russia. Queen Min became a main character in a big musical. Many films praising her as an exemplary Mother of the Country are shown on Korean TV, and newspapers have been publishing novels about her. She is becoming a new banner of Korean nationalism, a means of propagandaatiana M. Simbirtseva *

Min vs Daewongun

Min was born in 1851 to a relative of King Kojong's mother. She was orphaned at age 18. In 1866, she was married to King Kojong at the instigation of his
mother. The main reason why she was chosen was that she had no close relatives and so, she would not bring any extra unwanted influence peddlers in the royal court. In addition, she was already in the royal family circle on account of her relation to the King's motherkimsoft
To use a Korean expression, for more than five years she ‘guarded an empty room (빈방을 지켰습니다).’ 15 That means that the king paid no attention to her as a woman.
Many observers suppose that through these first years Queen Min was watching her husband, studying his character, and trying to find a way in. She discovered that while Kojong was king, he did not possess any real power, but that his father was the real ruler, and that his son was afraid of him.
There were many women around the king, but she could do nothing about it. She knew that there were seven ‘evils’ (ch’ilgo chiak), or seven conditions for expelling a wife according to Confucian teachings. Divorce was socially accepted if the wife was guilty of one of the following: disobeying parents-in-law, bearing no son, committing adultery, jealousy, carrying a hereditary disease, garrulousness, and larceny.
so Queen Min saw to it that her behaviour betrayed not a trace of jealousy. Very early on, she understood the palace to be a battlefield, and launching her desperate yet meticulous campaign, she mused upon different ways of becoming victorious in the struggle.
Soon she received a shattering blow. One of the palace women bore, the King’s first son.
The Taewongun was very glad that a grandson had been born and frequented the palace to see the boy,The Queen saw this as a direct insult to her Tatiana M. Simbirtseva
To add insult to injury, Daewongun attempted to designate an illegitimate son of King Kojong the heir to the throne. This was the last straw and Min shrewdly eased out Daewongun from power in 1873 and put her husband in full control of his thronekimsoft

On the 9th of November she delivered a boy, but he had a gastric problem. The Taewongun and the Queen had opposing opinions as to how the child should be treated. While they were arguing, the child died. Her despair knew no bounds. In her heart she blamed the Taewongun for the death of her son, claiming that he had purposely sent her too much ginseng. I
the Queen ordered the shamans to discover who was guilty in the death of the child. They brought back the verdict that it was malicious activity on the part of Chang sangung and Lee sangung, the mother of that first son, Wanhwagun. Lee managed to escape execution, but the other woman was executed after horrific tortures.

On the 25th of October, 1873, one of the leaders of the leading philosophical trend - wijong choksa - Ch’oe Ik Hyon (崔益鉉) sent a letter to Kojong and accused the Taewongun of lack of virtue, which caused great trouble for the people. The King was very pleased with the letter and appointed Ch’oe to a high position. The Taewongun wanted to punish Ch’oe and ordered the ministers of the right and of the left to write letters, denouncing his activity, but on the 3rd of November Ch’oe wrote one more letter: “The Taewongun is the father of the King, and it is the law to respect him, but he can’t rule the country forever. The King has grown up and must take his throne himself.” The Taewongun sent secret killers to Ch’oe, but Kojong immediately sent the philosopher into exile on Chejudo and ordered many people to guard him. It was done to save Ch’oe from the regent’s anger. On the 5th of November Kojong issued a proclamation stating that he had taken the reins into his own hands.
The Taewongun had underestimated his daughter-in-law’s cunning, as she had seemed to him primitive and incapable of master minding intrigues. In the end, there was nothing for him to do but retire to his house in Anguk-dong in Seoul.

Several days after his fall there was a big fire in Kyongbok Palace as a result of an explosion in the sleeping palace of the Queen. One of the servants of the Taewongun was arrested, but as concrete evidence was lacking the matter was dropped.

Some days later a beautiful box was brought to the house of Min Sung Ho, the closest confidante and relative of the Queen. When the box was opened, an explosion occurred and Min, his mother and a child were killed on the spot. Then there was a big fire in the house of Lee Ch’oe Ung, elder brother of the Taewongun and a devoted servant of the Queen. Again a servant of the former regent was arrested, and again the Taewongun himself remained safe.

These attempts on the lives of the Queen, her family members, and closest aids were the first in numerous plots which threatened her during all her life in powe
n the 8th of February, 1874, she bore a son, Prince Chok, who eventually became the last king of the Yi Dynasty, Sunjong (純宗, 1907-1910).
the Taewongun and his supporters, still cherishing hatred and revenge in their hearts, made a draft of a royal edict which deposed her from the rank of Queen and reduced her to the level of the lowest class Tatiana M. Simbirtseva
( Count Inouye issued a decree restoring the late Queen to full rank. She was given the posthumous title of "Guileless, revered" and a temple called "Virtuous accomplishment" was dedicated to her memory.)

Min vs People

Tonghak Struggle

Growing dissatisfaction with the government led to an increase in political agitation in Seoul toward the end of 1891. Queen Min, said to be "the victim and dupe of quacks and sorceresses, " was the principal target of this furor. Rumors spread that she promoted her own family's interests at the expense of the country
For all his intelligence, King Kojong lacked the assertiveness to check the Min clan's ambitious drive for power and appeared to be too much under the queen's influence. The Yi government split in two directions, both of which were wrong. The absorption of the more lucrative and powerful offices by the Min clan led to jealousy and exasperation among the yangban. The general rapacity of the Min clan faction towards commoners and their extortion of taxes drove the peasants to utter despair. Neither group had any inducement to be either peaceable or law-abiding. The bold and strong-willed Queen Min had a strong attachment to her relatives and appeared not to appreciate the mounting danger from alienated yangban and Korea's peasants.
Dissatisfaction in Korea spread through virtually every level of society and grew worse over the years. On his departure from Korea, Russia's Alexis de Speyer commented,
It is difficult to imagine how terrible the condition of the Korean Kingdom is. The most widespread arbitrariness, lack of justice, extortion, corruption, bribery - all this is raised here to the level of principles of state.

As conditions in Korea deteriorated, the peasantry's deep hostility toward the yangban class and its resistance to the inroads of foreign powers rose, fueling public speculation about armed opposition to the government. Rumors flew through the diplomatic corps in Seoul about the likelihood of some kind of massive revolt.
The Tonghak membership attributed the growing anarchy in Korea to the penetration of Chinese, Japanese and other Western thieves and rebels into the heart of the country. Tonghak leaders pictured Seoul as "the lair and den of barbarians" and proclaimed in a manifesto to have "sworn to the death that we will unite in one common effort to sweep out the Japanese and foreigners and bring them to ruin."
The Tonghak expanded into a well-organized revolutionary peasant movement motivated by a mixture of nationalism, anti-foreign sentiments and religious beliefs. By 1894, the rebellious peasantry became fully capable of staging large scale military operations.project

On July 23, 1882, the rioters went on rampage,killing all Japanese in their path and unsucessfully trying to murder their icon for corruption, Queen Min,Although Queen Min escapaed piggyback on one of her servant,the rioter did manage to dispatch to the next world the Japanese advise to the Korean Army as well as three of his aides.Grand Prince Hugson reportedly exhost the mob to oust the Min and expel the Japanese.King Kojon saw the writing on the wall,, capitulated to their demands and restored his father to power.The father immeditely dismissed all senior officials from the Min clan and had his own pro-Min brother, Prime Minister Yi Chare-ung,murdered,Queen Min was thought to be dead and Grand Prince Hungson relilshed the funeral preparations.Imperial family relations had reached low.p53The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 S. C. M. Paine

Large-scale Tonghak demonstrations took place in 1892 in Cholla-do and Ch'ungch'pong-do provinces. In 1893, Tonghak believers went to Hanyang and staged a demonstration in front of the royal palace, but were dispersed by the army. About 20,000 Tonghak movement followers assembled at Poun, Ch'ungch'long-do province, and proclaimed their determination to reject Japan and Europe. In 1894, Chon Pong-jun (1854-1895) assumed leadership of the Tonghak movement in Cholla-do province, where cruel exploitation of the already hard-pressed farmers was in progress after the construction of a new reservoir.・・・・Their peaceful protests having proven fruitless, the farmers resorted to violence・・・the royal court, dominated by the Min family, decided to ask for Chinese intervention. Chinese forces, 2,000 strong, landed at Asan beginning June 8 and took Kongju, while government troops recaptured Chonju on June 11, and the peasant army dispersed.asian info

In 1894, the Second Tonghak War erupted and King Kojong asked Japan and China for troops to quell the peasant rebels. The Japanese came in force and put down the rebellion, but they stayed on. Japan backed Daewongun and other pro-Japanese Koreans. Min countered the Japanese move by empowering Russians and pro-Russian Koreakim soft

Imo revolt

Korea, floundering on the verge of bankruptcy, had become a sea of unrest. The government's extravagant spending had left it unable to pay its debts, including the military's wages.

The rioters destroyed many of the homes of the Queen's relatives in their rampage through the palace grounds and killed a number of high-ranking government officials.
Soldiers forced their way through the Changdok Palace gate and surrounded the queen's private living quarters, the prime target of the military's vengeance. Amidst furious fighting on the palace grounds, in the confusion of the attack, the soldiers mistakenly believed they had killed Queen Min.project

Queen Min barely escaped death during the Imo revolt and fled from the palace in a servant’s dress.Tatiana M. Simbirtseva

King Kojong and the Min clan had managed to deplete the finacial reserves accumulated under the Grand Prince to such an extent that the military payrol and ration forthe troops in capital had not been met for fourteen month…..Then ,when the regular troops finally receive the rations in 1882,the rice was found to be adulterated with chaff.Such tampering with rations was but one example of the many way in which officials creatively supplemented their incomes.This time it precipitated a rebellion, the Soldiers’ Riot of 1882

p53(The Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895)

Queen Min now wielded political power in the name of the lackluster king and through the numerous Mins who owed their positions to her. The rule of the Mins proved to be arrogant, inefficient, and corrupt. The Political Upheaval of the Kapsin Year of 1884 drove the Mins out of power temporarily.Min, Queen Biography

Min vs Radical yangbang

Standing in stark contrast to the older pro-Chinese faction in Seoul was a younger group of yangban officials whose political advancement had been blocked by the Min clan's tight grip on appointments to high government positions. Unwilling to move slowly, these progressive yangban pushed hard for a policy of rapid change

Kim Ok-kyun lead members of the Korean Progressive Party in an unsuccessful attempt to rapidly reform Korea by launching a coup d`état in December 1884 against Queen Min's conservative pro-Chinese faction.project

The assassination of Queen Min gripped Korea with indignation. Confucian scholars mobilized volunteers to fight the Japanese, but with little effect. The atmosphere of hostility toward Japan permeated the country to such a degree that guerilla bands, so-called "righteous armies," arose throughout the peninsula to fight against Japanese troops still camped on Korean soil. To suppress the guerillas, the government made the painful decision to dispatch most of its newly formed Capital Guards Unit to fight against their own countrymen in rural Korea.

Reading this paragraph makes you think that Queen was loved by people.
But in my opinion, her death was used by Confucious scholars as a tool against pro-Japan government.
Moreover, it seems that the protest by the righteous troops was mainly caused by the ban on the topknot.
Read also the following.
Confucian scholars mobilized volunteers to fight against the Japanese. The Kim Hong-jip cabinet, spurred greatly by the incident, expedited reform. It adopted the solar calendar, established primary schools in Hanyang, introduced smallpox vaccinations, started modern postal service, and reorganized the military system, with the Royal Army Guards stationed in Hanyang and other detachments in the provinces. During this reform, the Japanese forced the cabinet to issue a decree banning topknots. Citizens wearing topknots were arrested on the streets or at their homes, and were forced to cut them off. Ch'oe Ik-hyon defying the decree, was arrested and imprisoned, but he did not yield. With these attempts, the Japanese tried to wipe out Korean heritage, only to stimulate the armed resistance of the Korean volunteer "righteous armies."

Spontaneous "righteous troops" protesting the ban on topknots spread all over the country. The Royal Guards of Hanyang were dispatched to suppress them. aisa info

After failed coup of 1884,Kim had fled to Japan.Meanwhile, the Min clan and King Kojong had tried repeatedly to have him extradited from Japan and failing in this , had kept trying to assasinate him......In 1894 a fellow Korean who later admitted to being in the employ of King Kojong befriended Kim, lure him from Japan to Shanghai,and murdered him there on March 28,1894....the victim arrived shrouded in a cloth bearing the inscription:"Ok-kiun, arch rebel and heretic.On April 14,by order of the king ,the body was decapitated,so that the head could be displayed in Souel while the rest of the body was subdivided into eight part so that one piece could be sent to each of Korea's provinces.Before long,Kim's father was hnged and his brother, wife and only daughter were all imprisoned as well.......
When he was murdered,the Chinese authority had made no attempt to bring the assasin to justice.
p98 The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 S. C. M. Paine
the man who assasinated Kim/dreamtale

1 comment:

Keith said...

Hi, I know this is some time back, but I'm writing an essay on The Last Empress and I would like to know where you got that Quote from the historian Koh Byong Ik so that I can cite it.